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tv   Meet the Press  NBC  October 7, 2012 10:00am-11:00am EDT

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this morning on "meet the press," just one month until election day. has the race taken a new turn? what a difference a debate makes. >> mr. president, you're entitled to your own airplane and house but not to your own facts. >> romney delivers. the president tries to recover. >> when i got off the stage, i met this very spiritefellow who claimed to be mitt romney. >> the economy is again the central focus. the new jobs numbers drop the unm employment rate below 9%. >> we have made too much progress. >> a sign of recovery as the voters head to the polls. we cover it all this morning. the policy fight emerging from
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the debate and the policy. what does the debate reveal about these two men? plus, our preview of the vice presidential debate this coming week. this morning, a special panel. obama campaign senior adviser robert gibbs. former republican presidential candidate newt gingrich. hilary rosen. mike murphy. and nbc's chief white house correspondent and political director chuck todd. and finally, what you haven't heard from arnold schwarzenegger this week. a revealing conversation with the former california governor. he talks politics and his personal failings. >> what would you like your sons to learn from your mistakes? >> i think that they're not going to make the same mistakes. from nbc news in washington, "meet the press" with david gregory. and good morning. one month ago, and so much to get to.
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i want to get right to our roundtable discussion this morning, anchored by our own mini debate. joining me former white house press secretary and adviser to the obama campaign robert gibbs. newt gingrich. republican strategist and columnist for "time" magazine mike murphy. democratic strategist hilary rosen. and our own political director and chief white house correspondent chuck todd, who just can't wait for new polls to see where we are. is this race in a different place? we'll get to that as the hour rolls on. we have to talk about the debate, we have to look ahead, but also the reminder, speaker gingrich, this is really about the economy. new jobs numbers came out on friday. are they a game changer in terms of how people perceive the economy? this is "the washington post" front page. certainly not something that the romney team wanted to see. the line graph showing 7.8% unemployment when obama takes office in january 2009. here we are in september of 2012. lowest since he took office.
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does this change anything? >> sure. i think it was a significant help to the president. imagine it came out at 8.2 following that debate. people would have entered this weekend saying that's close to the end. so i think it's part of the whole process. this campaign will go down to the end, i think. it's going to be one of the most interesting campaigns in american history. and i think you're going to see it go back and forth some over the next week. on the other hand, friday, the international monetary fund said probably no recovery until 2018. and that's a very sobering number. >> robert gibbs, it is particularly weak. you have 40% of those who have been out of work, out of work for six months or longer. this is a weak economic recovery. >> it's a stronger economic recovery in terms of jobs produced than we saw out of the 2001 recession. and the important thing, david, is we continue to make progress. 31 consecutive months now of private sector job growth. certainly we are not where we want to be. it has taken us as you saw from that graphic four years to dig out of this enormous hole that we were in.
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and the question going forward is, how are we going to rebuild that economy from the middle out? how are we going to make sure that folks have hope and opportunity, a good education? we bring back some of the manufacturing jobs and continue on this path to progress. >> there is a reality that on the campaign stump, mitt romney has been denied a line that he's been relying on when it comes to 8% unemployment, which was a significant marker. this is how he's been talking about it this fall. >> we've had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8%. he said that he'd create jobs, and instead we have unemployment now still over 8% for 43 straight months. >> the symbolism, mike murphy, is there for everyone to see. you get below 8% it matters. >> it becomes a good political club for the obama folks. but fundamentally, i don't think america woke up and said, hey, everything is fixed. we feel great. you can still see the economic worry. the middle class has been buried for four years.
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i think what's changed is not statistics out of d.c. i think we make a lot of that. it's the perception out in the states. >> but that's been a great point, chuck. when you see people feel better about the economy -- >> well, especially in certain places like in ohio, like virginia where the economy has performed better than the national average. but, you know, it is this, you know, the obama campaign, their belief in this, has been since sort of the bill clinton explanation of digging out of this hole, has been that ultimately that last sliver of swing voters is going to say, ok, let's not change horses mid stream. they are making a classic incumbent case of saying, it's not great, but, hey, do you want to start over? and i go back. i remember watching a couple of focus groups. there was one out in nevada with some working women. and one woman said, i'm not happy with obama. i'm not happy with the economy. but, god, i don't want to have to start over. there's this perception. so that to me is a tricky thing for romney. romney has got to sort of make
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this case that, hey, we're not going to rip everything out by the roots, right, which is of course what some in his base do want to have happen. but i'm going to create a better recovery, a faster recovery. so i think that that's what this 8% means, right? it means he's got to be more nuanced in that argument where the president can simply sit there and make that same case. do you really want to start over? >> and another point too, which is that for the wealthy, life has been pretty good over the last several years. the stock market has doubled. ceo pay is way up. the long-term unemployed, and those jobs that were lost under the bush administration that president obama has restored in manufacturing and the like, the key number for them is, who do i trust to take my long-term unemployment needs, my middle class family's needs, to the next level? so i think that the combination of people just trusting president obama more, if you're
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middle class, and that he has delivered on what he said he would in terms of getting us out of this hole is a powerful -- >> murphy doesn't buy that. >> no, that's their message. but i think we're missing the biggest thing that's happened in the campaign. economic things out of washington is one thing. but 80 million people finally got an unfiltered look at mitt romney, and they liked what they saw. and i think you'll see credible polls this week showing significant movement in the swing states and a much closer race. that's the big factor right now. >> let me put this in a different format, because we all sit in washington and get all these numbers. the average american goes outside and says, ok, 600,000 part-time jobs, 114,000 full-time jobs. gasoline the highest in history. do i feel better? or in the real world, can my cousin still not find work? in the real world, is every small business in my neighborhood still stressed? and i think the reason obama has never been able to pull away, even when romney had two pretty bad weeks, is that in the end
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there's this rubber band effect that they go, well, i'd almost like to give him another shot, but this is really frightening and really painful. >> well, nobody is ever going to pull away in this political system. so that's never going to happen. we always -- >> no, i disagree. i think he could have. if there was a moment to pull away, and the only thing that snaps it back is this feeling of things aren't -- >> the race was always going to be close. i don't think anybody would deny that. but let's be clear. let's look at where we've come. 800,000 jobs were being lost the first time the president read the unemployment report. i know these are just statistics for people in washington. that's real lives in america. 31 consecutive months of positive job growth. are we growing as fast as we'd like to? no. but it takes a long time to dig out of this avalanche of tremendously bad decisions that preceded the obama presidency. and let's understand this. one thing they saw in the debate was clear. mitt romney's plan is to go back to a failed economic theory of tax cuts for the very rich,
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despite the fact that he denied the existence of tax cuts or the existence of math. the notion that let's go to war on wall street -- go to war with "sesame street" but give wall street a big wet kiss. that's exactly what got us into this mess. >> that's not what they saw. i get the interpretation. you have a campaign to win. but what they saw was one guy who seemed to be someone they'd never seen before. he shattered the fiction of the advertising. he was a guy brimming with new ideas and energy. and they saw the president of the united states sleep walking. >> mike, i don't think -- >> let me finish. the tired contrast rang a bell. romney has ideas, and the president has no vision for his second term. and i think that's what hurt him. >> mike, i don't doubt this was someone they had never seen before. i think there were people in the romney campaign who had never seen this candidate. a week ago paul ryan was asked to explain the math of a $4.8 trillion tax cut. and he said i don't have time. mitt romney said we just don't do math. like math doesn't exist.
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let me finish. you simply cannot wish away the existence of your entire campaign platform. as inconvenient as it may be when somebody says to you, ok, if you're going to reduce revenue by $4. trillion, you're not going to tell us one loophole you'd close, you're not going to run up the deficit or taxes on the middle class. >> very quickly -- >> no, no. it goes back to bill clinton. >> there was a story out yesterday that that claim is fiction because you don't count the loophole closing. >> what loophole? >> he talked about mortgage interest. really quickly -- >> mortgage interest? >> he has never talked about mortgage interest. >> the hilarity that there is one -- >> we have one loophole. >> mike, finish, but then i want to get on to something else. >> the president says he wants to lower tax cuts to big corporations. how to pay for it? loopholes. what loopholes? nothing. we'll tell you after the election. you're attacking romney for the same thing. >> i want to talk about the gas
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prices. one thing that was striking, speaker gingrich, is what some were arguing about the actual numbers. jack welch made a lot of headlines with a tweet that said, unbelievable jobs numbers. these chicago guys will do anything. can't debate so they change the numbers without any substantiation. he was on "hardball" with chris matthews and this is how he explained it. >> i've reviewed 14 businesses this week. from restaurants to widgets. i have seen everybody with a third quarter equal to or weaker than the first quarter. in order to get 873,000 new jobs, you would have to have a g.d.p. going at 4% to 5%. the second quarter was downgraded from 1.7% to 1.3%. the third quarter is not going to be very strong. it just defies the imagination to have a surge larger than any
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surge since 1983 a month before the election. i leave it to you to do all the analysis >> one of the most important ceos in america. formerly of general electric. does this ring true? >> well, it rings true to me. since it's a survey, is this outside of the statistical bounds of their survey, which is plausible but irrelevant. but you have a president who says last budget got zero votes in the last senate. zero democrats voted for his last budget. the president of the united states so deeply distrusted by people like jack welch who is hardly a right winger. he is one of the most successful businessmen in america. welch instantly assumes this is the chicago machine. it's very -- >> stop for a minute. this is really making me crazy. the federal reserve gets questioned for politics these days. we have corroded -- what we're doing, we are corroding trust in our government in a way.
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and one-time responsible people are doing to control it. and the idea that donald trump, jack welch, rich people with crazy conspiracies, can get traction on this is a bad trend. >> i assume, david, there's a number of people that believe that the real unemployment report is somewhere safe in nairobi with the president's kenyan birth certificate. this stuff is crazy. and the notion, quite frankly, that somebody as well respected as jack welch would go on television and embarrass himself for the entire day of friday by saying somehow that these statistics are made up, i agree with chuck, it's incredibly dangerous. and we wonder why institutions in this country are -- or the perception of institutions in this country are failing because people go on tv and just make stuff up. asked for evidence, he said he had none. >> the bush statistics came out after jack welch did and said
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there is no way this could be. it's not possible. >> when did you stop beating your wife? >> no, no. you guys are missing the whole point. the reason people are losing respect for washington is they are losing respect for washington. it's not some right-wing crazy thing. i don't know a single small businessman or woman who believes that the next four years under obama will be good. i don't know a single small businessman or woman who expects to hire a lot more people if obama wins the election. i travel a lot. these are not conspiracy theories. they get up every day and look at taxes and what is the cost of the health insurance and the market going to be like. and they are all overwhelmly -- they have surveyed their members. >> i want to advance this from the economy to the aftermath of the debate.
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the cover of the noe"the new yo mitt romney eastwooding, debating an empty chair. simple question. what happened? this couldn't have been the game plan for this president to go in and by all accounts underperform against a guy whose back was against the wall, who faced a make or break debate. >> look, david, it's not rocket science to believe that the president was disappointed in the expectations that he has for himself. but, look, i think part of that was because as i said earlier we met a new mitt romney. we met a mitt romney that wanted to walk away from the central theory of his economic plan, which is his tax cut. i don't have a tax cut that's $4.8 trillion. i'm not going to cut taxes on the rich. i don't have a medicare voucher plan. i love teachers. and i think we need more of them. look, don't believe me. speaker gingrich was pretty eloquent running during the primaries and saying, mitt romney will say absolutely anything to get elected. and if somebody says absolutely anything to get elected you have
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to wonder what they'll say when they are president of the united states. >> so, speaker, you did say he was fundamentally dishonest after debating him in the primaries. this is not a new attack against romney policy. >> no. and i think that the challenge for the obama people is pretty simple. the president of the united states had 90 minutes. now, if he had done his homework and actually prepared, if he had actually studied romney, why didn't he say it? why didn't he take romney head on? first of all, the charges on the tax cuts are plain wrong, and i think virtually every analyst has said and even your deputy campaign manager said the charges made are wrong. but forgetting that for a second, the job of the president is supposed to be to competent and stand up for what he believes in and articulate what's wrong. mitt romney walked over him. it's funny that the eastwood now -- just as mr. green paid for this microphone was one of ronald reagan's breakthrough moments, the weird moment with clint eastwood may be that as
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well. >> the big knock against governor romney here is that he walked away from a $5 trillion tax cut plan. he assumes that tax cuts for growth to make the math work, simpson-bowles says his math doesn't add up. that something has to give. you explode the deficit, raise middle class tax cuts, something has to give which is the point that rob was trying to make. >> something has to give. and mike just said maybe the thing that gives is mortgage interest deduction. the single most important thing to middle class american families. and that's going to be -- and we'll get to this later -- that will be a challenge for paul ryan. but, you know, i think that what we are experiencing right now, and we just said it, is that this sort of style over substance is -- i don't think it's going to overtake this race. i think you had a president who was trying to move the facts out. was facing a guy who he hasn't seen before. either mitt romney is completely
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faking everything he said or he is a liar. so either way. >> when you say style over substance shouldn't matter, the truth is optics are important. >> ask richard nixon. >> well, i was going to go to that, because i do think in fairness it is fair for the american people to want to see their president fight for them. and the barack obama every day that they see on the campaign trail, the barack obama we saw in wisconsin the day after the debate, is a president who is fighting for them. and this president has to do that in those moments when there are millions of people watching on tv. >> here is an example of the closing statement by the president that people felt was so lackluster. watch a clip of this. >> you know, four years ago, i said that i'm not a perfect man, and i wouldn't be a perfect president. and that's probably a promise that governor romney thinks i've kept. >> mike murphy. >> well, yeah. the president -- as the speaker said, the president got a huge
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chunk of unfiltered television time and lost the debate because he had nothing to say. that is a fundamental problem of the obama campaign. they have the thinnest election brochure ever. very short on accomplishments. huge national debt. none of the jobs promised. now trying to start a parade about economic statistics and saying things are now just as bad as they were when he started. what i think really worked in the debate was romney seemed like a guy with energy and ideas and the president didn't. it's no surprise that the president's campaign strategy is character attacks. if they can bury romney, they can win no matter what. but the debate changed the race. >> but style has always mattered in these things. it is sort of that feel that you get for a candidate, whether it was kennedy, nixon, carter and ford, reagan and carter. we can go through it time and again. when reagan lost the first debate, mondale looked like he had energy and idea and reagan looked listless. that is one thing i guess the obama people can say, we've seen other -- bush and reagan had bad first debates and recovered. it's recoverable because there are more debates.
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but this was bad. and his own supporters -- i went to a denver rally. to a person they were like, what was that? what was this guy? and they were your supporters, robert. >> but, look, let's dispense with style. i don't doubt that style is important. but let's understand exactly -- i want to drill down on that. >> the president who loved style dispensing with style. >> this president is serious about substance and is wondering whether it is that mitt romney went with his substance. i had a white board last night. i should have brought it. there is a $4. trillion in revenue. you cut according to mitt romney's own plan there's a 20% rate reduction from the bush tax cuts. we'll end the estate tax. we're going to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. you cannot sit here, mr. speaker, or anybody can't sit here and say, that doesn't require a reduction in the amount of revenue by 4.8 trillion. this is math. >> i'll say it right now. >> moderates, liberals,
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everybody says here is the problem. you guys won't give him any credit for closing loopholes because like you guys he won't name the loopholes. why? you'll attack him for doing it. >> this is important. >> if there is substance -- you keep bringing up substance. let me hear some obama substance. your substance is to attack romney. that's the whole campaign. where was the president's vision? if he had a couple of sharp ideas, he would have had a better debate. >> the president talked about his health care plan, and mitt romney said my health care plan will do the same thing. >> i do think there's an issue here of whether something has to give. again, you can talk about fact checkers. simpson and bowles, i spoke to them and romney praises them. the math doesn't add up. somebody has to give. you have to specify where the deductions are. you can't increase defense spending, extend the bush cuts,
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20% on top of that, and just say, no, it's going to be ok, we'll grow our way into it. that does raise a fair amount of scrutiny. >> sure. i think that's legitimate. first of all, romney has said to the degree they can't get the loopholes closed in congress, he'll reduce the tax credit. that he'll stick to the principle that it will pay for itself. there's a general argument over whether you should count economic growth. simpson and bowles don't count economic growth. two harvard experts said higher growth. third, romney has an energy plan which expanding american oil and gas. the royalties alone are worth $750 billion a year to the federal government. fourth, look carefully at what romney said, that the true supply sides don't necessarily love but it's good politics. he said i will close enough deductions that wealthy americans will not get a net tax cut. now, that's a pretty clear
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description. >> let me just say this. standing on the stage with you in arizona, this is what mitt romney said. number one, i said today we're going to cut taxes on everyone across the country, by 20%, including the top 1%. mr. speaker, you mentioned that your opponent, mitt romney, had a problem with being dishonest in the primary. my question is, was he dishonest when he said that? >> i think it's clear he changed. >> we don't disagree that he changed. >> let me do this. i want to get a break in. there's several different directions we're going to keep going talking about the economy and the aftermath of the debate. and we want to look forward to the next debate, which is biden and ryan. we also want to go inside the numbers with chuck todd for a look at how the campaign is feeling good. the romney campaign, after the first debate, looking at some of the enthusiasm. later, my conversation as i mentioned with arnold schwarzenegger. much more to come with our special panel right after this. "meet the press" is brought special panel right after this. "meet the press" is brought to yowe know why we're here.. ♪
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coming up next, more with our roundtable. chuck todd will go inside the numbers looking at enthusiasm in the electorate. plus, a preview of [ male announcer ] wouldn't it be cool if we took the nissan altima and reimagined nearly everything in it? gave it greater horsepower and best in class 38 mpg highway... advanced headlights... and zero gravity seats? yeah, that would be cool. ♪ introducing the completely reimagined nissan altima. it's our most innovative altima ever. nissan. innovation that excites. ♪ hey, it's sandra -- from accounting. peter. i can see that you're busy... but you were gonna help us crunch the numbers for accounts receivable today. i mean i know that this is important. well, both are important. let's be clear.
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would you care to respond? >> no. you two go ahead. [ laughter ] >> robert gibbs, i want to get you on the record on this. what specifically does the president have to do better in the next debate? >> well, look, i think you're going to see a very engaged president that is ready and willing to call out whichever mitt romney shows up. >> that's not the president who showed up in the first debate. >> again, i'm not going to take away from mitt's masterful, theatrical performance. he did a superb acting job. he did everything but learn tactic. >> one of the things we're measuring is waiting for the polls to reflect the debate. does what you're seeing in the numbers reflect the enthusiasm? >> this is before the debate. we had a likely voter model that had the president only up 3%. the question is why. what is going on that has
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republicans doing better and becoming more likely voters? it's simply an enthusiasm gap. and we're seeing it across the board. look in the first one. 79% of republicans call themselves extremely interested in this election. on a scale of one to 10, they say they are a 9 or 10 on interest in the election. 73% of democrats. look at four years ago. it was a 13-point gap in favor of the democrats. let me go through some various voting groups. this is an important voting group. seniors are important to mitt romney now. he leads them by about 10 points. look at this and engagement in the election. four years ago, 81%. pretty high. even higher this time at 87%. and romney is doing better among seniors than mccain did. let me go to an important voting group for the president. young voters. look at this engagement level. 52% now that call themselves of voters 18 to 34 call themselves extremely interested in this election. four years ago, it was 72%. that 20-point gap. the president wins young voters by huge margins. he is winning by some 20-plus
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points. but if you don't have the enthusiasm, they are not going to show up to the polls. and the last one here, this is i think the most important one and that's hispanics. the president is winning ÷zspanics by 50 points. however, look at this in terms of interest in the election. 59% now. it was 77%. what does that mean? the president got 65%, i believe, of the hispanics four years ago. even though he'll get more hispanics, if less of them turn out, it's a net zero. and yet you look at republican enthusiasm up, senior enthusiasm up, it's a huge problem. and by the way, all of this, predebate. >> hilary rosen, one of the things you've been talking about is the president record. how he runs on his record but also leans forward as well. david brooks' column on friday struck me, complimentary of governor romney, and he wrote this about the challenge for the president. politically, the president will have to go back to portraying romney as a flip flopper instead of an idea log.
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so far obama has seemed driven by the negative passion of stopping republican extremism. he'll have to develop a positive passion for something he actually wants to do in a second term. >> yeah. well, i think he might be right to this degree. but president obama has a record. we have completely changed how education is being evaluated. the president's race to the top. support for community colleges. we have invested in new alternative energies because everybody knows despite what mitt romney said that the only way we're going to become energy independent is with a mix of energy sources. he has provided health care, so much to the extent that mitt romney started to claim credit again for what he could do in health care. this actually is a president with a record beyond just digging us out of our jobs hole. and i think, though, that it's important when we look at the going forward. going forward isn't just about the economy. because people don't live in
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that binary world where they only care about the economy. yes, it's the most important issue. but if you're a mom, worried about your reproductive health, and having to buy insurance separately from your family to pay for that, you know, that is an extra burden on your economic issues. if you're an immigrant, you know, worrying about whether you're family is going to be deported our your kid is going to be able to stay in high school, that's an extra burden that you have to worry about. if you're a gay or lesbian worried about whether you're going to get fired from your job because president obama wants to protect your job and mitt romney doesn't, that's an extra thing you have to worry about. i think americans actually live in a very holistic world. and president obama gets that, and mitt romney doesn't. >> i'm amused that every time there's a question about the president's vision it's 17 words to attack mitt romney. if they were out and run a debate and they were running a campaign now with interesting new ideas to get people excited about voting for them, they'd be in better shape. instead, they are running the old political campaign. i know it well.
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called zero sum. the other guy is worse, the other guy is worse, the other guy is worse. that was working. romney was in trouble. then romney got an unfiltered shot. and everybody has taken a second look at him. the real question to me for the campaign is can the romney campaign take this moment and run with it. if so, the obama campaign which will only get more negative, that's what fear does to a campaign, will look smaller and smaller. >> i know you want to respond, but can i just talk tactics here? speaker, are we going to see mitt the moderate now? is this what he's doing with this second look? he talks about he doesn't want to gut financial reform. >> he said that back in january. >> touting health care instead of talking about replacing it all the time? >> he is talking about replacing obama care, which is part of how he pays for his tax cuts. he cuts out all the spending put into obama care. let me go back to one example hilary used. 86% of the country favors an
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energy independence plan which romney is campaigning on. ohio, five counties in eastern ohio that have five billion barrels of oil. something people didn't even know a year and a half ago. all of a sudden you have an explosion of new energy sources in this country. that's why romney talks about okaying the keystone pipeline. romney has two big -- >> domestic drilling is at an all-time high. >> just very quickly, romney now has two great advantages that reagan had. first, there are real substantive differences in the two approaches. the second is every time they run a truly vicious ad, and then you see romney in a debate, he's not the person they are running the ad about. that's exactly what happened to reagan in 1980. >> welllet me get a break in. reagan[ female announcer ] want to spend less and retire with more?
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we are back. we're thinking ahead as well to the vice president showdown. the weekly standard has the cover here previewing the big debate. the debate smackdown. ryan feeling good, and biden maybe looking afraid here. robert gibbs, how do you see this shaping up? are we going to see biden overcompensating, being more aggressive than he might have otherwise? >> i don't think that vice president biden will overcompensate. the question is which paul ryan do we get? do we get this same sort of, you know, chameleon we saw in mitt romney who literally walks away from virtually everything that his campaigned on for two years in the space of less than two hours. i know that vice president biden is anxious and ready to do this and the president is anxious to get back to it as well. >> how do you size it up? >> i think ryan is one of the brightest people in congress. i think he knows an immense amount of facts. but i suspect he's going to be respectful of biden. i mean, there's a generational
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difference here that i think will lead ryan to not give an inch, but to not be very hostile. >> i was just going to say history shows when there's an age difference, the elder statesman wins the vice presidential debates. cheney and edwards. cheney was able to almost smack down edwards. benson and quayle, famous. joe biden, everybody talks about the gaffes on the trail, but he won most of the democratic primary debates in 2008. >> but this is a high wire act with joe biden. they are going to be pouring cola down his throat. they'll have a couple of days of bad polling. you have ryan who is very impressive but hasn't done this before. and biden who is a high wire act in an attack mode, which isn't always his natural place. it will make for a good -- >> if i can ask you this, hilary. there is an immediate reaction to these debates about, wow, how do you feel? there is so much information. and this was such a sconstant
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substantivive debate between romney and the president. you can't score that at all. there is an initial impression and a second impression that develops over time. how does that factor? we've seen it. they are going to try to grind down romney on the idea that he is a chia chameleon, who do you trust, to he really performed well. >> well, the group of undecideds showed that they didn't necessarily change their vote one way or the other. i think when you have -- paul ryan is not going to be able to do what mitt romney did. he was the chairman of the budget committee, for goodness sakes. it would be an affront to him to make up all of these numbers.
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>> let me switch to a different performance this week that got a lot of attention. i had the chance to sit down with a familiar face on this program, arnold schwarzenegger, former governor of california. recent revelations about his personal conduct have hurt his reputation, to say the very least. you have noticed he's been out this week with a new book called "total recall:my unbelievable true story" in which he details what he says are his successes and his failures. governor schwarzenegger, whack welcome back to "meet the press" meet. . >> thank you. it's good to be back again. >> let's start with politics. you're still a high profile voice in the republican party. what do you make of the race? can governor romney win this election? >> i think that the race is wide open. and i think that there's a lot of things that change all the time especially close to the election. i think either one of them can win it. it really depends. >> are you a naive optomist when it comes to your belief in post partisanship?
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you see what goes on in this town. i know it's a big work of your job as a professor and your institute at usc. how does post partisanship happen when you see the polarization in washington and how poorly things work here? >> i think seen firsthand, when you bring both parties together, you can do the people's work if you see yourself as a public servant rather than a party servant. i think you can get much more done. we have seen it. just look even during the big battles and the fights between the democrats and republicans. when ronald reagan came into office and looked at social security. he appointed a bipartisan commission and they studied it for two years. and in 1983, they moved forward to pass legislation to reform social security. so those are the kind of things that you can do. i've seen it when i was governor. when we brought democrats and republicans together, we did the infrastructure. we made the commitment to rebuild california. we did a lot of progress in reducing the greenhouse gases
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and making a commitment to 33% of renewables in the year 2020. and stem cell research. on and on. and as soon as in 2005 when i thought i could go off by myself, and it's my way or the highway, just like the republican party, we're going to grind it out, it failed miserably. so i learned first hand is that the only action is when both parties come together. >> former governor of california. you understand the demographic shifts in the country very well. the latino population not just in california but throughout the southwest, throughout the midwest and the rest of the country, the reality is that as a party republicans are doomed, if they don't find a way to court hispanics in a way to deal with issues that hispanics care about, the full range of things. what do republicans do? what does romney do? what does the party do? you've been in this situation. >> well, one of the great senators, senator mccain, has for years been a strong believer in immigration reform.
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he has worked to get a reach across the aisle with kennedy. they both had a really great plan. and i think the plan should be reasserted, because it doesn't make any sense that for the last 10 years, maybe before i even became governor, they have talked about immigration reform. and every single time they get into it they say, well, we have an election coming up. well, hello? i mean, the history of america that every two years there's an election. you know, every four years there's a presidential election. so there's nothing new. you've got to get the people's work done. we need immigration reform. we've got to solve this problem. because it doesn't secure the border. and we have to go and make a decision, what do we do with the people that are here now? they have not yet gotten in because they are scared. and that is what is really to me frustrating in a way because, i mean, you have political leaders and you come to capitol hill,
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you can't be scared of things in the hopes that you get re-elected. and that becomes the number one interest. your number one interest is you should not worry about keeping your position and keeping your seat. think about it. every police officer, every firefighter, every one of our brave men and women that go overseas, they risk their lives. their lives, every day. they never know if they are coming home to see their family again. and our politicians are afraid of losing their seat. i mean, it takes a little bit more balls to run this job and to do this kind of a profession. that's how you get things done. so that's what we need. political courage to go in there and to fix the problem. there are five, six major problems that we have in the united states, and they need to be fixed, and they should stop pointing fingers at each other and bickering because that is not going to build a new road or make our air clean. >> in your book, you lay bare your personal life and your struggles here. look, infidelity, having affairs, is something that's been surmountable for political
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figures and public figures in this country. you took it a step beyond. you fathered a child with the family housekeeper. publicly humiliated your wife maria shriver over and over again. do you think you lost credibility as a high profile political voice in the country? >> i don't think so. but let me tell you, if the people are angry at me, i deserve that. there was a major screw-up. and as you said, i have hurt my wife. i have hurt the kids. i think they went through a lot of pain because of that. and i take the responsibility and i will do everything that i can. if someone asks me what are you going to do in the next few years, i would say that i professionally will continue with my acting and with the political stuff. and with my institute at usc. but at the same time, i will be working as hard as possible on my relationships and my family to bring the family together again. >> are you a man of good character? >> i think so. >> even after everything you've
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done? >> look, i'm sure you made mistakes. i'm sure a lot of people out there made mistakes. i made my fair share of mistakes, and that's what my book is about. it's not just about the victories. and about the great things that i have accomplished. my book is an honest book that i also talk about my failures. in the movie business, my failures. the political failures. and also my personal life, the failures. >> but it's interesting, you know, part of the book i would imagine and part of interviews you've done througut the week where you talk more personally about your divorce and the break-up of your marriage and the affairs, do you think you come across as a sympathetic figure? because a lot of people saw the "60 minutes" interview when you were asked about affairs and you said i'm not perfect, and i have to think a lot of people are thinking, i just don't think that's going to fly. >> i had no intentions to make it fly. that's the last thing i think about. nor have i any intentions to do
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an interview with you today and sound sympathetic. people should make up their own mind about all this stuff. i'm not going to tell the people what they should think about me. i'm a person that reaches out and is working hard to give back to this country, and i am a person that has been very successful and that has tremendous will and tremendous vision for the future. i chased my visions. i am a very inspirational immigrant story. but at the same time, i also had that side, the dark side, of making those kind of mistakes. and that kind of personal failure. and i'm the first one to admit to those things. i'm not looking for sim paympat all. people should make up their own minds of what they think of me. >> what would you like your sons to learn from your mistakes, about their relationships with women in their life and just generally? >> i think that i have the most unbelievable children, and they,
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you know, have spent so much time with me and spend even more time with their mother. and maria as you know is an extraordinary person, an extraordinary woman, an outstanding mother. and so i think that our children are going to go in the right direction because of that. i mean, they had to really -- >> but are there specific lessons that you'd like your sons to learn? >> i think they're not going to make the same mistakes. i think i'm an inspiration to my children, the stuff that they have accomplished, and they also recognize the pain that i have caused them because of what i've done. >> i want to before you go end on more of a political note. back when you were running for office, an issue here at nbc. you were on "the today show" back in 2003, and there was a notable exchange that you write about with matt lauer. and i want to play a piece of that tape. >> are you going to make your tax returns available to the press? >> say again? >> are you going to make your tax returns for the past several years available to the press?
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>> i didn't hear you. >> apparently we are losing audio with arnold schwarzenegger in los angeles. arnold, thank you for your time. we appreciate it very much. let me switch over to -- >> now, governor, you actually heard just fine, didn't you, at that particular moment? >> not that i can remember. >> here's what you wrote about that exchange that we just played you with matt lauer. as he pressed me for specifics on how to bring back the california kple and when i would release my tax returns, i realized i was unable to answer. i finally had to resort to the grou groucho marx trick of, i'm sorry, i can't hear it. it was my lamest performance ever. >> maria was really mad at me. she said, you need to think about what you are going to say when you do those interviews. and i said you better believe it. there's a lot of things i have
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to learn now that i'm on the campaign trail. >> would you run for political office again? you told me in our last interview, never say never. >> well, never say never. but i don't see that in front of me. usually, i have a very clear vision of where i want to go. and i think that my vision now is to work very hard on this usc schwarzenegger institute that will address the issues that i have addressed in sacramento. and also will address the issues that we could not complete. because you go in there as governor with a huge list of goals that you want to achieve. a very ambitious list. and if you achieve half of it, you're lucky. and that's exactly what happened to me. i achieved half of the things, but the other half i didn't. so i want to continue to work on those things. >> we'll leave it there. arnold schwarzenegger, governor, thank you. >> thank you. >> our whole interview, by the way, is on our website. press pass conversation. that is at hilary rosen, your reaction? >> well, i would just say quickly the one thing i liked that he said was working across
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the aisle. actually president obama worked with governor schwarzenegger to refine the admission standards, which is saving a lot of fuel today. but shame on arnold schwarzenegger. he has the nerve to sit there and say that he -- you know, nothing is more important to him than his family, yet he wrote this book, you know, embarrassed his family further, and is keeping it out there on the front pages. i'm kind of appalled that he has the nerve to even suggest it matters to him. >> you worked for him. do you think he can get over this in any fashion? >> i loved the lauer interview, because he hired me the next day. look, he's a good friend of mine. so is maria. it's a tragic thing. and he made a horrible stupid mistake, which he is taking responsibility for. i'm not sure what else he can do. but what he did was really bad and he knows it. >> well, he is promoting it. >> well, people can read it and think what they think. >> people always ask me why do you love politics and all this
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stuff. and for better or for worse, it's because you get interesting characters that take office like arnold schwarzenegger. you can't predict it. you couldn't figure out what was going to happen. so it does seem his priorities are off skew. but, you know, that's his life. that's his decision. that's his business. and that's his bedroom. but he is sort of the epitome of why i love american politics. you never know who's going to pop up or how they are going to get there or how they are going to leave the stage. it's a quintessential what makes it interesting in media. >> does he have any credibility as a political voice in the country? >> i don't think so. but i think he and maria are each examples of extraordinary citizenship. what she is doing with alzheimer's is going to have a huge impact and make a real difference. on the other hand, here is this austrian kid from a small town and ends up making movies and being a great investor in california real estate and then
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a multimillionaire governor and one time was the highest box office draw in the world. and i agree. you said to me this is what makes america such an astonishing country. is he imperfect? yes. is he likely to be seen as an adviser on morality? no. is he likely to ever run for office again? no. but just as part of what is the mosaic that makes us truly an astonishing country, both he and maria are part of that mosaic. >> and just a horrible and tragic personal story, for everybody involved, we're going to leave it there. thank you all very much for your discussion. stay tuned for the vice presidential debate on thursday, 9:00 p.m. eastern. i will join brian williams and our nbc news team afterwards for full analysis. ♪ [ male announcer ] how do you turn an entrepreneur's dream... ♪ into a scooter that talks to the cloud? ♪
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